“Join us and you shall be saved! The Order of the Emerald Robes has been chosen to survive the coming Apocalypse! See how our numbers have grown since we departed. There is no reason to fear the coming wave if you join us. In fact, I assure you that if everyone becomes a member, the danger will pass. For this is a sign from the true God of our world that we must unite under one banner. Our divisions have brought this threat upon us and it can only be met by an unbreakable bond of faith. You with the broken leg! Swear your allegiance to the Order and we will carry you the rest of the way. Parents that wish to save their children can give them to us if they do not feel worthy to join our ranks. Many of our female members are able to feed the infants and our men are strong enough to carry three kids each. Please calm down and accept that we are the only way to salvation!”
Standing atop a truck in the middle of her people, the robed woman keeps her arms raised while everyone else rushes across the bridge. She hears a strange metallic echo that is followed by a series of snaps that buckles the ground. A taut cord swings low enough to catch nearly every member of the Order of the Emerald Robes and the car that their leader is standing on. Many are sliced in half while the rest are sent flying into the churning ocean below, their bodies dragged screaming into the depths by an unforgiving riptide. Having landed on her head, the woman gets to her feet and struggles to see through the blood seeping down her face. She reaches towards a tall figure who is passing by and slows down as if it is about to help. A circular crack appears around her and the road falls away to plunge the woman into the eddies that surround the bridge supports. Due to the blind stampede, several people slip and tumble into the hole before the chunk rises back into place.
“That’s why you don’t stop,” Kara says from her friend’s shoulders. Holding on tight with one hand, she uses her binoculars to check ahead for danger. “The right-hand side is blocked because two cars collided. I see a lot of fire, but two lanes are clear. People are charging right through the flames too. The smoke is stopping me from seeing anything beyond that. Is that a plane to our left?”
Gripping the girl’s legs, Dawn sprints ahead with all of her strength and listens to the sound of shrieking engines. She risks a glance to the side to see that there is an enormous jet airliner falling from the sky. Large gashes are in the wings that shake as if they are on the verge of snapping off. The cockpit windows are shattered and three people can be seen hanging from the frames, each one impaled by a long shard of glass. People are jumping out of the open doors even if they are sucked into the engines or lack a parachute. Many on the bridge try to run in the opposite direction while others stop and stare at the approaching plane. Not wanting to get trapped on the wrong side of the destruction, Dawn continues running and knocks stunned travelers our of her way. Those she hits shake their heads and follow her, their instincts telling them that they have to keep moving. Leaping over the flames instead of going around, she finds herself leading a growing band of survivors that is inspiring those far behind to join. Screams drive them forward, the voices cut off abruptly and making them fear that the ravenous wave is on their heels.
For many, the effort to escape is too late and they are directly in the path of the approaching plane. The nose strikes the side of the bridge and crumples while the steel supports tear like thin paper. Breaking off at the main body, the wings fly over the barrier and snap the cables without losing their momentum. People are sucked into the groaning engines and smashed by the pieces before they tumble over the far side. With the screech of stressed metal and cracking of asphalt, the entire section of the bridge slumps. Dawn is about to yell for everyone to continue running when the ground tilts and she barely manages to grab the railing. Others slide across the road until there is a tangle mass of people trying not to fall over the edge. Panic quickly sets in and those who are desperate to survive throw those in their path into the ocean. Within minutes, a brawl has broken out while the plane explodes with enough force to pulverize a large swath of the bridge.
Fearing that they are going to fall at any moment, Dawn whistles for Kara to get on her back before climbing onto the railing. Using her arms to pull herself along and her legs to remain on the narrow path, she moves as quickly as she can. Small dings from behind cause her to look back to find that a few people are doing the same. One look at their eyes tells her that they are prepared to knock her out of the way, which drives her to hang from the rough railing. Praying that her luck and strength hold out, Dawn swings like a monkey. The risky advance includes a terrifying moment of her letting go of the handhold and sailing along for a few feet before regaining her grip. Once she has gained a comfortable lead on the slower travelers, she stops with the acrobatics and makes sure to always have on hand on the railing. A violent tremor runs through the bridge as she reaches the edge of the stable section. Dawn leaps for a piece of rebar that is sticking out of the jagged stone and catches it as everything behind her crashes into the ocean. With it being too high for Kara to climb up alone, she pushes her aching muscles to their limit and eventually drags them onto solid ground. Looking back, she can see that that tidal wave has slowed down and is struggling to erase the wreckage from existence. The wall of glimmering water pulses and briefly becomes a shadowy void, the sight of which paralyzes all of the people who are trying to swim below.
“Let me down and-” Kara begins to say. She stops when Dawn gets up and starts running again. “You can barely breathe. Put me down and give yourself a little rest. I might have shorter legs, but I can keep up for a few minutes. We don’t know how long the bridge is, so you shouldn’t make yourself so tired. I can’t carry or drag you if you collapse and I refuse to leave you behind.”
“You’re going to if you have to,” the woman growls before coughing. Seeing the rest of the crowd far ahead, she grits her teeth and ignores the full body ache that threatens to consume her energy. “I won’t put you down because I don’t know if the ground will turn you into a panicking maniac. Besides, the safest place is with me and you can’t get any closer than on my body or shoulders. Just hold onto your satchel and trust me. I can get us to the end of the bridge and I’m sure that’s when the tidal wave will disappear.”
“You don’t know that.”
“If I’m wrong then I’ll keep running.”
“What if it doesn’t stop?”
“Then that means one of those monsters is ready to erase the entire world to kill me.”
“Would they do that?”
“I don’t know, but that’s not something I can really stop.”
The air is filled with the smell of saltwater and the ocean becomes an enormous whirlpool that steadily eats at the bridge supports. With the ground quivering, Dawn tries to keep up her muscle-straining pace. She nearly falls to her knees when a massive quake shifts the entire structure a few feet to the left. The distant survivors scream and appear to collapse in unison before a small piece falls into the swirling water. Waves rise out of the eddies and fall forward like slow-moving tentacles that explode against the bridge. The rain pelts the travelers with enough force to leave welts and the ground becomes so slick that Dawn comes close to twisting both of her ankles. An oily shine spreads across the asphalt and mesmerizes Kara, who starts to let go of her friend. She is snapped out of the trance by a sharp pinch and twist to the back of her thigh. The girl clenches her eyes shut to avoid falling into the trap again and tightens her grip out of fear.
A crack of lightning runs across the cloudless sky, but Dawn refuses to look up to see what is coming. It is only when she hears a familiar chuckle that she dares to stop running. Shifting Kara to her front and hugging the child to her chest, she glares at Ian as he hovers above the bridge. With a droning sigh, the reality-bender waves a hand to dissipate the tidal wave and restore the land without reviving those who have been killed. He descends to the ground and lands between Dawn and the crowd that is trying to run away. Ian has the far end of the bridge pivot up until it is vertical, which causes the terrified humans to tumble into a large pile of groaning bodies. Ignoring their complaints, he turns on his heels and is about to stretch his arm towards Dawn.
“Whatever you do, leave Kara alone,” she demands, which stops Ian in his tracks.
“What is so special about this child?” he asks while scratching his head. He takes a step forward and grins when the woman backs away. “She is one human on a dying planet. You have no relation to her, so why does she matter? As someone who has lost a relative, I can tell you that caring about others leads to pain. Are you ready to suffer?”
“I swear, she will survive this.”
“As you said before, there are some things that you cannot stop.”
With a snap of his fingers, Ian causes the bridge to turn bright red and begin to blink like a faulty light. A beeping is emitted from every cable, which gradually become intertwined wires of blue and green. Popping out of the ground at the reality-bender’s feet, a timer rises into the air and continues its countdown. Some in the crowd try to get off the bridge, but most remain in place and watch the second click away. Filled with rage and unable to think of a way to escape, Dawn steps forward to deliver a kick to Ian’s groin. Not expecting the blow, he doubles over and loses his concentration. Instead of a single explosion taking out the entire bridge, the cables erupt one at a time to destroy the edges and plunge the middle into the ocean. Within seconds, the debris and those standing on it have been swallowed by the water.